#AtoZChallenge: Memory

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I know, I know, giraffe doesn’t start with M. Can’t resist today, though. Like many of you, I suspect, I was watching a giraffe with her brand-new baby (I missed the birth, but so it goes) when suddenly I remembered: I’m supposed to write a blog post today. Right. Yes.

Which got me thinking about that elusive thing called “memory.”

(Ponder that for a second, I’ll be right back, just need to look at that baby giraffe again. And see if s/he is standing yet. Baby giraffes are precocious.)

Almost. Not quite. OK, back to memory. It loses things we need; it clutches things we really don’t, like that one time that thing happened, and it was so embarrassing and you’d like to forget it but it loves to pop back into the old thinker right when you’re trying to go to sleep.

My own memory has always been a bit of a murky mess in some ways; relentlessly detailed in others. I don’t always remember people I’ve known; I have a friend who reminds me of things I’ve long forgotten, marked and inventoried. We joke she’s my historian.

(Why yes, I did just pop over to see the new giraffe again. Admit it. You did too.)

It’s strange that something lasting can be so ephemeral; so real yet unreal at the same time. It forms our basis as we learn from our mistakes and successes. It haunts us. It bathes us in remembered warmth.

(Nearly made it that time! April is standing between us and the camera. A couple inches to the right, April. We’re making memories here.)

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Storage Oh Storage. My Kingdom for More Storage

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Look at this guy, taking up storage space. Aw, just kidding! Can't get mad at him!

Look at this guy, taking up storage space.
Aw, just kidding! Can’t get mad at him!

Arggh. So if you read yesterday’s post, you know that I have reached my media storage limit here. I’ve been trying to get Flickr to play nice, but I’m having trouble, and I’ll have to go through the photos before I upload. For Day 3 of the trip alone — the first full day in the Galapagos — I have over 1200 photos.

Nope. Not a typo.

I really took that many photos. So I have to weed through them, and then, if I use Flickr, select them one by one. Or post an album, but apparently I can’t embed it.

Yes, I know, this dilemma is fascinating.

The easiest option is the most expensive. Isn’t that always the case? I can buy more storage from WordPress, but I’m just not sure how I feel about that.

So trip posts will have to wait while I see if I can get the the whole Flickr thing going (or if anyone else knows of a better photo hosting site, I’m all ears! Well, not ALL ears. 86% ears).

Or I could just invite you all over and make you watch my slides, hour upon hour, blithely refilling glasses with tepid water, as I explain the rocks.

Yes, even the rocks are interesting on the Galapagos.

Beyond that, last show on Saturday! It’s now or never, get your tickets!

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Ecuador & Galapagos Day 2: Hello Galapagos

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img_5495(Part 1, Part 2) I was going to attempt Flickr, but I’m having trouble with uploading. I’m right at the top of my limit here, so it’s a problem I’m going to have to solve, but we’ll see if that’s today.

Now where were we? Yes, we hadn’t yet heard from Mario, and excitement reigned: We were heading to the Galapagos Islands.

After a lovely breakfast at the Grand Hotel — my plate teeming with fried plantains — we were off to the airport. Mario e-mailed, he’d been released from the hospital late, but had tried to find us to resume the tour. We were probably at dinner at the time, as he’d called the rooms and we weren’t there. He left us chocolate at the desk.

Ecuador grows a lot of cacao, but we’ll get to it.

At breakfast, my20161004_085158_1477410905909 mom met a bright, chatty woman from Atlanta named Debbie, who, with her husband Tom, was on our tour, and, we discovered, would also be staying at the Isla Azul. Together we all trooped out of the van to the airport, where we learned that we needed to get in a line before we got in a line.

Due to careful environmental restrictions, everyone going to the Galapagos must swear to not having anything that could upset the ecosystem. No foods, no animals, no contact with farm animals. We paid our travel fee, and our luggage was separately inspected before we slogged over to the check-in line for the airline, lugging our approved luggage.

We boarded, and about two hours later, we were descending over glossy waters. After a quick announcement, the flight attendants, their faces stern, walked through the cabin fumigating each overhead luggage compartment, filling the plane with a surprisingly pleasant-smelling insecticide.

And then it was off and into the open airfield of Baltra, also known as South Seymour Island. We were in the Galapagos Islands.

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The actual Galapagos Islands.

There was a feeling of isolation, of being at a place near nothing else in the world. We were the only people here, intrepid explorers, buffeted by the strong winds, air so fresh my city lungs could barely manage.

And then, before we even made into the airport building, the next plane was coming in.

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To customs, one line for the Ecuadorian visitors; another for everyone else. I heard a sound above me, and looked up.

My first finch.

The Galapagos Islands are famous for many animals, but perhaps none so much as Charles Darwin’s finches. Though they weren’t his only subject — or even his most studied subject — they have endured as a symbol of what these islands mean to the study of evolution. In fact, the work continues on the island below, Daphne Major, where Peter and Rosemary Grant have spent 40 years watching finches evolve in real time. Their work is chronicled in the book The Beak of the Finch.

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After the customs officer collected the $100 Galapagos park fee, and a quick trip to the restroom where I had to remind myself you don’t flush the toilet paper in the islands, it was time to collect our bags. The luggage was piled on a short belt, the scariest K-9-sniffing German Shepard I’d ever seen leaping over the cases, taking his job very seriously. When he finished, his handler opened a metal grate in the wall, and the dog hopped through. Two bags sat at the bullet-proof vested officer’s feet.

Hmm.

Another officer asked us what we’d brought, again making sure we weren’t going to interfere with the ecology of the islands, and then I was free to meet our handler from Guiding Galapagos Expeditions, Santiago, who had a sign with our name.

Santiago and I chatted away, and then I realized my dad was standing next to someone else. Who also had a sign with our name.

He was from our other tour company Pacific Holidays. Even though my dad had explained to them, very carefully, with a chart and everything, that we wouldn’t need the transfer from Baltra to our hotel. Apparently no one bothered to tell our transfer.

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Frigate bird in flight. Huge and amazing to watch.

An explosion of Spanish later, Santiago and the other driver had it all worked out, and we were heading for our very first tour: the Island of Santa Cruz and its Highlands. (To be continued. Of course. Tomorrow: Giant Tortoises!)

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A little visitor on the bus to the ferry. It was as though he saying “I know you came to see me. Here I am!”

 

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The Baltra side of the ferry crossing to Santa Cruz.

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These boxes were all packed with chicks chirping away. Why? Literally no idea.

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In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

My Super Secret Vacation Location!

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Earlier this week, I mentioned my upcoming trip, and I’m so excited about it, I can’t hold it in anymore. So here’s a fun little game. It’s what these three things have in common (and Jon, Lorinda and Kristin, if you guys are reading this post, no fair guessing, you already know…though I’m going to tell everyone in a second anyway, so I guess they won’t hear you if you call it out).

So this guy:

and this one:

and this author:

What could it be? WHAT COULD IT BE???

Are you ready for the answer?

Yes?

OK, here it comes!

If you keep scrolling you will find out that I am heading to…

The home of Diego the Tortoise, host of the most famous finches in history and setting for one of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut novels! With me? I’m going to the:

I KNOW!!! Believe me, I KNOW!! I’m still in shock that it’s happening, though it’s been set for a while. Can you imagine the photos?

You won’t have to. Because I will share them with you. I am not a religious person, but I imagine the feeling a religious person gets when journeying to her/his holy site is similar to the feeling of a scientific person having the opportunity to visit what could be considered the birthplace of the theory of evolution.

It’s far more adventure than I’m used to, but I think it’s just the kind of adventure I need. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

n or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Photo Time! Brookfield Zoo

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img_4646This weekend, I paid a visit to Chicagoland’s other zoo: Brookfield Zoo. About 4 times the size of Lincoln Park Zoo, it’s tucked away in the suburb of Brookfield, which is easily accessible, and when I say “easily accessible,” I mean you can get there, but you’re going to sit in traffic, even on a Saturday.

I got pictures, but none that seriously wowed me. I also learned that part of the issue I’ve had since getting my gorgeous new camera is that my SD card is too slow, so I’m not getting the full benefit of the burst. That will be remedied before I go on my trip, which I’ll be talking about later on in the week.

Though it was a lovely day, and the zoo not outrageously crowded, there was just something flatter to me about Brookfield Zoo. Sheds were faded with the paint peeling; the abundant gift shops felt halfhearted and uninspired. The light inside the animal houses was also pretty dim.

You might, if you read regularly, know my concerns about zoos, but I’ll say this: the animals all looked like they were plush versions of themselves, like a menagerie of children’s toys brought to life. Even the rhino seemed like he’d been plucked from the shelf.

Albeit a very large shelf.

Anyway, you’re not here for the words, you want to see some photos, so here we go!

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Condors. Huge doesn’t begin to describe them.

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This one knew what it was doing, and showed off its wingspan. ENORMOUS.

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People actually fed these small monkeys, who were not fenced off from us at all. Don’t feed the animals!

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Speaking of huge, this bison was shockingly large. And people are approaching them at Yellowstone?! UHHH…

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I mean don’t they look like you could have picked them up at the gift shop?

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Why yes, that IS a dead mouse these two American Bald Eagles are about to enjoy.

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I think this grizzly is soon to be featured in a shampoo commercial.

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Even the camel looked fluffy. Though she wasn’t named Alexander Camelton, like the new baby camel at Lincoln Park.

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Please go back to the mouse, eagle.

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There were two baby gorillas, but the mom of the little one did not like pictures.

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More Butterflies! So Many Butterflies!

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IMG_3099I shared a single butterfly yesterday, and I know it’s been a photo-heavy week, but I can’t resist sharing more. The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Butterflies & Blooms exhibit — a permanent structure with net walls and a net ceiling — absolutely teems with a wide variety of butterflies. Some of them are the size of small birds, and just as fast or faster.

Not easy to capture.

Plus, my camera battery died, which is a frustrating moment. I need to get back up batteries. Or at least a back up battery. But I had my little camera, and got a few shots with it as well.

I have no idea of any of the species, so feel free to identify if you do!

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I wish I’d gotten some pictures that really gave the sense of the ethereal loveliness of the masses of them flying around, but it was tough to capture.

And now from the little camera:

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Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

 

 

 

Adorable Video Friday!

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So it’s Friday, it’s been a long, wild week in the world, and I had such a blast the last time I did this, I decided that I would share some more silly, adorable videos. Why not head into the weekend smiling?

I hope you enjoy them too! And I hope you have a marvelous, relaxing and wonderful weekend.

 

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!